Is PPE Necessary When Working on a Property?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage of PPE and at the end of this article there is information about how to donate surplus PPE supplies for medical professionals working with patients here in Oregon.  One common question we are asked, “What kind of protective equipment should I wear when I work on a property?”

Let me first explain what PPE is and why it is important?  Much like today’s healthcare workers, our techs at Certified Indoor Environmental use personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE in our work environment to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.   However, instead of hospitals, our techs work in spaces that can contain anything from toxic mold and asbestos-containing materials to hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases that can be absorbed through the lungs and skin.  As a result, protective equipment is essential for occupational safety and health. 

MJS_8108“Protective equipment is more effective if it fits well and is comfortable.  Our technicians are fit tested and extensively trained.  We want to ensure the equipment does not impair the ability to work safely and place anyone at risk of injury.” says Mark Ritacco, Managing Partner at Certified Indoor Environmental.  According to OSHA, a “fit test” tests the seal between the respirator’s facepiece and your face and is performed at least annually. After passing a fit test with a respirator, you must use the exact same make, model, style, and size respirator on the job.  “We consider every situation and address every risk.  Extreme weather during the summer months can also be hazardous, so we supply ice vests for our technicians who remediate mold in hot attics.” says Mark.

Are you still wondering what proper PPE looks like?  See the video below of a technician from Certified Indoor Environmental exhibiting how to don (put on) and doff (take off) PPE correctly.  This example is what technicians wear when they are disinfecting a property due to either a COVID-19 incident, testing and/or removing asbestos or providing mold remediation.   This process, particularly the removal and disposal of contaminated PPE, is considered an important step in limiting exposure to pathogens and chemicals.  For more information regarding PPE, please visit the CDC website.

We often are asked what safety equipment is necessary for remodels or repair work.  PPE can be anything from goggles, masks, and suits, to gloves, hats, and boots.  As mentioned earlier, it is important to analyze the potential risks and then suit up appropriately.  “Before beginning a remodel or cutting into material, we recommend having an asbestos inspection first,” says Michael Schneider, an asbestos supervisor at Certified Indoor Environmental. “We can take samples of different materials and send them to an independent lab for testing. These tests are highly accurate and can determine if there is asbestos in the materials.  If your asbestos test comes back positive, Certified Indoor Environmental will discuss options with you and develop a plan to remove the asbestos from your property as soon as possible. Any remodeling or construction could disturb the asbestos and put you at risk for asbestos exposure, so it’s safer for an asbestos abatement professional to complete this first.”  Check out more information about Certified Indoor Environmental’s services here or call us with your questions at 503-610-3661.  We also have a list of common asbestos-containing building materials to download for quick reference. 

Again, the state of Oregon is asking for donations of surplus PPE.  Requested items include latex-free gloves, procedural masks, surgical masks, N95 respirators and N95 filters, other respirators (P100’s, PAPR’s, and PAPR supplies/parts), face shields, splash shields, gowns, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes. Here is the link to donate PPE supplies for First Responders. 

CIE | Author – Lynette Schmidt, Business Development Manager, 8/13/2020

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